Shorter surgical procedures and better planning with Stratasys J5 MediJet

The University Hospital of Birmingham produces cutting guides for head and neck cancer patients using a Stratasys J5 MediJet 3D printer. By using PolyJet additive technology using biocompatible light-curing resins, the hospital shortened the average operation time by three hours.

Printed cutting guides have “changed” the way tumors are removed from head and neck cancer patients, as doctors previously had to manually cut and bend pieces of metal while the patient was on the operating table. Now surgeons can use 3D printing to create highly accurate devices using data from patients’ CT scans. The guides are made of biocompatible, transparent MED610 resin, suitable for applications requiring long-term contact with intact skin (over 30 days) and limited contact with tissues, bones or mucous membranes (up to 24 hours).

“In addition to saving up to three hours of surgical time, 3D printing also enables much better surgical planning,” says Stefan Edmondson, clinical science consultant (reconstructive sciences) at the hospital. “Using patient scans, the team is able to create 3D visualizations based on distinct anatomy and then use 3D printing technology to create both anatomical models and personalized surgical cutting templates before the actual surgery.

The J5 MediJet was launched in 2021 to provide users with the ability to create full-color, multi-material parts in an office or laboratory environment. Since installing this model of equipment, the University Hospitals of Birmingham has seen significant reductions in working hours and improved patient care. The integration of 3D printing technology has enabled surgeons to better prepare complex surgeries as well as provide information about procedures to patients.

“This feature means that we can not only accurately predict surgery before it is performed, but also that we have the tools to ensure that meticulous pre-operative planning can be done with the highest precision,” explains Edmondson. “The surgical team is also much better prepared and the patient feels much more at ease because we can discuss the process and expected results before going to the operating room,” he adds.

According to the hospital, taking a section of a patient’s fibula and shaping it into the exact shape and size so that it can be transplanted to the target area of the head or neck, while ensuring that the bone tissue is kept alive, is a very complex process in which 3D printing truly demonstrates better possibilities compared to conventional methods.

“In this scenario, if the angles at which you cut are not absolutely perfect, the bone will not fit and the body will have a greater tendency to reject it, leading to significant discomfort for the patient,” Edmondson continues. “Fortunately, the 3D-printed cutting guides are accurate to the micron level, ensuring that the fibula is trimmed in the best possible way for our patients.”

Stratasys’ GrabCAD Print software, which works with the 3D printer, also provides additional benefits. Its ability to automatically create support materials contributes to overall time savings from start to finish, making your 3D printing workflow easier.

University Hospitals Birmingham, a pioneer in the use of additive manufacturing in medical applications, has many years of experience with a variety of Stratasys 3D printers and technologies.

Source: Stratasys press materials

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